July 10, 2012

The Psychology of Fashion

Original image source: luellajune.com via Mojo on Pinterest

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society." - Mark Twain.

There could be an entire curriculum dedicated to this topic. As Bill Cunningham described, "fashion is our armor to the world." Since it's illegal to be a nudist, I think people should take the opportunity to use clothes as a way of expressing themselves whether it be a part of their personality, their status or even their mood. In the Psychology Today issue this month, they touched on this topic and referenced two studies that showed how fashion can enhance someone's mood or "enclothed cognition." Both the symbolic meanings of clothes and the physical experience of wearing them affect one's behavior when they tested subjects with a lab coat. The participants they told the white coat was a lab coat performed certain tasks better than those who were told it was a painter's coat.
Certain colors create a perception. White can be considered clean and professional. Whereas other colors evoke different emotions like in sports. They referenced how there has been decades of research demonstrating how a sport's athletes behavior is affected by their uniform color. Black jerseys are perceived as more malevolent and cause players to play more aggressively.

                                                                                                        Source: google.com via DiAndria on Pinterest

To someone who has never bought themselves a new pair of shoes to brighten their spirits, fashion may seem like a frivolous pursuit. While yes, submitting to retail therapy to deal with an issue may come off as vain, it may in fact be a great heeler (pun intended!). This concept is something that TLC's hit show What Not to Wear has always been preaching for years: If you wear great fitting clothes, you'll feel great. But fashion also plays off the psychology of colors and when you wear certain colors, it puts you in a particular mood. If you have been feeling sluggish or tired, sometimes wearing a bright color can lift your spirits and give you an awakening.

We are also very visual people. We don't like to look at things that hurt our eyes. If our co-workers wear an appealing color than it may also affect our psyche. We like to look at the color and therefore our performance at work may be better. Note: have well-dressed co-workers! It doesn't have to be a shallow thing that you want others around to dress well. You have to look at them all day. But the best place to start is yourself. Set an example! 

"Your behavior is often in tune with what you're wearing" 

says Santa Clara University psychologist Jerry Burger. If you are putting a good mood out into the world, perhaps other will want to follow suit. Don't the women in the above picture look happy? They feel confident, beautiful and it shows!

Do you feel how you dress affects your mood?


  1. Vive la retail therapy! Great post. I think I find fashion inspiring and so I always strive to get excited about it (guess that's how I ended up in fashion school).



  2. what i am wearing can make or break my day
    so can shopping for a little something new
    good article

  3. This is such a great post! It is so so true that what I wear affects my mood. It made me wonder if my tweet earlier (it's a love-my-outfit kind of day) is what prompted you to visit my blog ;-) I remember feeling that way even as a young kid...new shoe days were the best. I would literally be excited to get up and go to school to wear them. Feeling good about what I'm wearing is a huge confidence + mood booster.

  4. What a great post! It's absolutely true that my outfit can play a role in my attitude. For example, I like what I am wearing today so I feel confident and happy.

  5. I know you wrote this post just for me :-) I also read this article, I've been thinking of writing something about it myself. Whilst I think that shopping 'highs' are temporary (and do not in fact reeeeally beat long term therapy lol) I think that the way I dress can affect my mood and vice versa - it's all very linked. What we show to the world through what we wear is important.


  6. Hi Kimberlee,
    Great post! I'm actually a Style, Fashion and Color Psychologist based in London, UK. I had my business for 2 years now but I must say that this year I've noticed a huge increase in the interest in the topic of fashion psychology.
    Clothes do make a man. They represent your personality, thay create certain impression about the person wearing them and that image you're portraying with your clothes can either get you places or destroy your position.
    With regards to color I totally agree: it not only represent certain personal characteristics but it can also affect the wearer's and the perceiver's mood.
    I've recently started #ColourCampaign on Twitter to encourage people to wear more color. I post info about the meaning of certain colours and when to use them best as well as ask questions to followers. Do join me in it and hopefully together we can get people wearing more color.
    Warm regards,
    Kate Nightingale
    Style Psychologist

  7. Totally true. I feel terrible when I wear something I don't like.


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